Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ciao, Ciao, Ciao!


So I'll work on getting more interesting with my titles, but we really just say Ciao all the time.

Like always, I've been keeping very busy. This last we we got the 36 new portuguese Elders+Sisters, along with one Italian Elder, and one Italian Sister. That was pretty crazy. Whereas before our sacrament was empty except a few rows (we had maybe ..20 Italians), now the whole congregation is filled (We now have the extra 60-70 Portuguese).

One thing we do each week is write a talk in our mission language. So this week we actually had talks given in portuguese. hahaha. It's about the funniest language on the planet. Per esempio, instead of saying "molto bene", they say "muito Beam" Or something like that. It sounds hilarious. Instead of "Ottimo" they say "Oigimo" And instead of "Calcio" they say "Foogie Ball" hahaha. So it's all just pretty hilarious.

It was very hard to focus while they were giving their talks.

I'm starting to get extremely comfortable with everything we do here. Whether it be teaching lessons, practicing street contacting, or just whatever. I know it will be different in the field, but the fact that I've gotten comfortable with it all here makes me feel good about everything, and I know I'll get comfortable in Italy quickly.

One funny thing that happened this week: Me and my companion were going to teach the second lesson in ENGLISH because we were going to teach my teacher's friend, but then, about 15 minutes before the lesson we found out that the friend didn't make it, and then we had to teach in Italian!! We hadn't prepared a lesson at all. We hadn't studied for it this week. haha. So we prayed, and then we had a sweet lesson. The investigators we taught were really funny. He asked if I was Indian, then when I told him I was Chinese he was like, you know noodles actually came from the Chinese and stuff. haha.

My Italian is coming along great. From now on we do SYL everyday. So..we don't really speak in English. Not everyone in our district is the best about following it, but I think we do alright. I'm getting better at expressing myself in Italian, and the other day I talked to an RM from Catania that's only been home for 1 1/2 weeks and I could understand everything he said way clearly! And that's the mission I'm going to so....questo รจ otttimo.

Apparently we'll be receiving our flight plans in three days. So that's pretty awesome.

So a few more things about this week. I don't have a thesaurus, so I can't look up the antonym of "highlight," but whatever it is...the opposite of highlight this last week is that Sorella Prina went home. She'll be back, but she went home to recover because she can't eat anything. It stinks cause she was supposed to go to Italy two weeks ago!

One thing that was a highlight was that we learned some Italian sign language. So that's pretty cool. I actually really hope I meet a deaf person in Italy, cause I'll totally ask them how they're doing...and that's about all I can do. I can also say hello to about anyone I meet. So far me and Anziano Rowland are up to 24 languages. Including quite a few I had never heard of, like Kurdish and some Filipino one besides Tagalog. I've also started reading Siate Fedeli, or True to the Faith in Italian. It's awesome. I can understand most of it.

Sorry if my e-mails seem cut off sometimes but we run out of time and I have to just send it.
Okay, I really must go.

Con Affetto,

Anziano Banks

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Pictures!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zone Life


So I'm keeping really busy nowadays. There are a ridiculous amount of Portuguese missionaries that can't get to Brazil. So we just had 38 join our Branch this last week, and we're going to be having another 30-something coming in tomorrow. And...of course I have to talk to them for a couple hours, tell them about the MTC, give them a tour and the like.

So keeping busy.

This last week flew by. The highlight though is for mom. Guess who I saw here!!! Do you remember those Elders we took to McDonalds when we were in Taiwan with Clark?? Well now they're both Chinese teachers here at the MTC. haha. So one of them recognized me last week and it was really cool. We also got in 30 new missionaries that are going to Taiwan this last week. A couple have taken Chinese, but they were still blown away when I went and chatted with them. I realized I can bear my testimony in Chinese pretty well actually. I would really like to have a Chinese Book of Mormon, just in case I meet any Chinese people while I'm in Italy. Cause I'm sure I could place it.

Really exciting news? I believe I'm going to receive my flight plans this week! So that will be awesome.

I've received some awesome packages and letters lately, which I very much appreciate!! Such a nice surprise. I got cookies from Grandma, a couple weeks ago I got cookies from Sister Buss, and I also got candy from the Gillette family. It's pretty sweet.

I've been trying to decide when I should break this news to you...but...okay. hahaha. So I've been working out a lot lately (every morning, plus an hour every day of soccer, basketball, or more working out). And I didn't realize something until it was too late! I want to be able to do a hand stand push up before I get out of here, but it turns out that working out overhead makes your neck bigger!!! So I no longer fit into a 15 1/2!! hahaha. But the good news is I got this "button extender" that seems to work alright. But yeah, it's pretty nuts. In a couple weeks I'll let you know all the physical goals I've accomplished here because they're actually pretty phenomenal. I've put on a little over twelve pounds, but I can assure you that I've only lost fat. So it's pretty cool.

I accomplished a sweet goal this week!! I have now seen over 50 people here that I know! (People that I actually remember their names too, haha). I was hoping to see over 50 before I left the MTC, but I already have. I love it here.

One more thing. Soccer has been favoloso. I love it. The new portuguese Elders in our Branch are pretty good, and so it's really fun to play with them. It's been snowing here, but it melts so we're still able to play. Except Anziano Garcia, Anziano Garvin, and I manage to do alright. My companion (Elder Garvin) did something really funny yesterday during soccer: Okay, so first he kicks the ball out of the air, and it hits some big guy in the face and knocks him down. THEN, my companion runs to the ball, without looking kicks it towards the goal, and right then that same guy was standing up and he got hit in the face!! hahaha. It was so funny. The kid was alright. So that was good.

One thing I forgot to tell you is that we once again had a lesson tutto in Italiano. And I'll tell you what, I'm feeling pretty good about it. I can understand pretty well, and I can also communicate most of what I can say. I can also ask some pretty killer questions in Italian that have been really helping me get some good responses. There's a ton more to learn, but I really feel quite prepared. We're doing three SYL days this week. So that should be good. Our last ones have gone really well. Discussing a fairly wide variety of subjects.

The Spirit is great. I really like the firesides still. I've been singing in the choir with Elder Ben Savio at all of them. I love that kid. So much fun. He seems to be doing great.

We had a quick health scare the other day. Anziano Rowland got sick, but it wasn't swine flu, so he didn't have to get quarantined. But check this out. There is one sister that didn't leave today with the others because she is having some health problems. But she will go to Italy in 2 weeks. Other than her, we are now the oldest Italians here.

Pretty cool.

Con Affetto,

Anziano Banks

P.S. Grazie mille per tutte le cose

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Awesome Happenings

Come sta questa settimana scorsa?!

Things have been awesome here. Yesterday we gave the first lesson tutto in Italiano. It was way sweet. The guy we had was really cool and pretty funny. Some highlights from the lesson: When I told him the first vision in Joseph Smith's own words (translated to Italian), from memory but at a comfortable pace so the investigator (william) could soak it in. That was really powerful.

Me and my companion kept saying that Joseph Smith "ha volato" instead of "ha voluto", which means he flew instead of he wanted. haha. So the investigator was like "Joseph Smith ha volato??" And he waved his arms like flying. It was pretty funny.

The lesson went really well though. I also busted out a smooth flow of Italian because he thought all we needed was the Bible and he loved the Bible, and I was like, I know the Bible blesses our lives and is the word of God, but I also know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Gesu Cristo and that it blesses are lives, and how much better is it to have even more words of God?! And he was like "haha, yeah that's true." And then he said he wants to read the book of mormon and pray about it.

And at the end of the lesson we knelt in prayer and we had him offer it, and I got a cramp in my leg.

That was during the TRC, so it was just practice. Now let me tell you about a couple of real investigators. Wilma from NY, and Brian from Minnesota. I talked to them while I was in the Referral Center. I'm serious, you guys should log onto the chat on if you ever have and gospel questions.

So Wilma was this lady, from Trinidad or Jamaica or something, who wanted a Finding Faith in Christ DVD. And so I was like, could we send some representatives over to deliver it, and to share a message about Jesus Christ? And she was like "Yeah, I'd really enjoy talking about Jesus" And then I found out she has a mormon friend, and she has a friend who may also be interested, and basically it was pretty sweet.

On chat I talked with Brian. He's a cool kid. Catholic. He had a lot of concerns about the afterlife. The highlight from that conversation is when he told me that he's catholic, but it's all the same God...And so I told him that's cool, I have a lot of catholic friends. And then I invited him to come worship with us sometime, and told him I think he'd enjoy it. And I'm totally sure he went to church last week, and he still had a lot of questions so I told him any of the members could answer them for him, or he should talk to the missionaries. So...BOOM!! That was sweet.

OH!!! BIG NEWS. I'm a Zone Leader now! haha. That was this last week. So that's pretty cool. Turns out it's about a hundred times better than being a District Leader because you don't have to do as much, but you get more respect. haha. So that's pretty cool.

I'm healthy as ever. This may sound ridiculo, but I really drink 1 or 2 V8's every day. I also have a grapefruit every morning, and basically it's awesome.

We also had our one month anniversary. I've been here awhile now. That first month flew by, as I'm sure the next one will as well. I really just want to get to Italy. It's going to be so awesome.

Let's see...what else to tell you about., Have I told you how amazing our classroom is? We totally have the best one in the MTC. For one, we have the most decorations. A couple of the Anziani in our district are pretty sly about snagging some from other rooms, and it's way good. We also have the best markers. Anziano Rowland's mom sent us a package of different colored expo markers so that's sweet. We also found a way to get some sweet soft chairs.

And we listen to Music with a message all the time which is so good, and you should really check it out. They just came out with a new one!! Joseph Smith.

Ciao Ciao Ciao!

Con Affetto,

Anziano Banks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wow, a full week!


I kept really busy this last week. And so I guess I'll just start telling you how eventful it was!!

First, tuesday night. We had a general authority come teach us about teaching. haha. Elder L. Tom Perry. That was pretty awesome. I sang in the MTC choir, and we sang Lead Kindly Light. It was pretty cool.

We also got new missionaries in our district. Four sorelle, and one anziano. He's from australia. haha. Melbourne.

On thursday the highlight was calcio. I don't know if I've told you, but mio collega is a killer soccer player. So me and Anziano Marzolla were both running at him and he faked us out, and then my cheek hit Anziano Marzolla's forehead!!! It was pretty crazy. But I bounce back quick, and it was a fun game.

On friday it snowed. Exciting for my district leader who's never seen it snow, but I wasn't loving it. The only cool thing is I got to wear my trenchcoat which worked out well.

Saturday was amazing. We had a zone conference. I can't help but tell you some of the quotes that we heard that really hit me, that I think are very helpful:

"Sometimes, fear of rejection or of giving offense looms before us like an impassable obstacle"
-President Henry B. Eyring

Something to think about.

The other one I really loved was this:
"We should live to possess the Spirit daily, hourly, and at every moment...which makes the path of life easy."
-Brigham Young

Sunday. I love sundays. Especially because it was fast Sunday!! So I got to bear my testimony in Italian, and the main thing I said was that la chiesa e vera, e quello semplice. The church is true, it's that simple. And lately we've been learning that what it all comes down to is just whether or not the book of mormon is true. And it is. So Joseph Smith was a prophet, and our church is true!

One thing for fast sunday is that we had mission conference. My favorite thing there was the noise. We were asked to all open up to a scripture, and it sounded way cool. Have you ever heard a couple thousand scripture pages being flipped? It was like a bunch of farfalle or something. Way cool. A very nice fluttering noise. : )

Okay, so this last week I found a ton of scriptures I wanted to share with you, and I would love to tell you some funny stories, but I loved these scriptures and I've never found so many like this before, so I thought I should share them.

2 Nephi 31:3 -Talks about how Nephi loves plainness, which I can totally relate because I think a lot of people complicate the gospel

Matthew 18:20 - About wherever there are two or three, there is the Lord. And on missions there are always two of us!!

Matthew 7:3-5 - This is one we hear a lot, but I think it's way important that we're careful not to judge others.

Ether 12:4 - I like how it's like, if you believe in God, than there's hope for a better world. Which if everyone did, I know we would have a better world.

Matthew 17:20, 21 - This is the one about faith as a mustard seed can move mountains. But what really stood out to me was the second verse. Because you can't just have that little bit of faith, you also need to do something. Like ...PRAY!!! And fast.

I also think something you should check out is Music w/a message. So good!! We listen to it all the time. You just go to, and then on the right side is the mormon channel, and then go to music with a message. I really like the Jesus Christ - Friend, and I like the service one. If you need some Sunday music it's perfect. Plus they all have good principles.

Hey!! I almost forgot something really exciting!!!! As of last tuesday, I can roll my 'R'!!! It's awesome. This language is really coming for me.

I also have a new favorite hymn. It's number 293. It's about having good friends, which I have definitely been blessed with amazing friends (um...they're basically all on missions right now!!)

Okay, so I'm almost out of time. But I've got something funny for you. The Spanish-speaking elders. Oh my. So in Italian "ciao" means hello or goodbye, but apparently in Spanish it just means goodbye, so they think we're being rude when we say ciao. haha. And the other one is that they say "bien", and we say "benne" And so when they ask how we're doing, and I say molto benne, I've actually been corrected before that I should say "bien". What a joke. haha.

They also have reminded me to turn off the lights in the bathroom because it's 10:15, and that's quiet time. (But "lights out" is at 10:30) So...idk. They're funny.

Well, I guess I better get off.

Con Affetto,

Anziano Banks. : )